What’s In A Newsletter? At The Times, There’s A Secret Sauce

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In the Smarter Living newsletter, the editor Tim Herrera often introduces topics to readers through his own personal struggles, and encourages them to write back and do the same. A few weeks ago, he wrote about his indecision, and before that, his burnout at work. “I do hear a lot from readers that they’re really appreciative of the vulnerability of the Smarter Living newsletter,” he said. “I think it’s a really strong implicit invitation to return that vulnerability.”

Each of his emails ends with a reader callout. After a newsletter about recommitting to failed New Year’s resolutions in February, thousands wrote in with their missteps and plans to get back on track, which, in turn, became the topic of a Smarter Living newsletter that would help others find their own plans. “That, to me, is the core and the holy grail of what Smarter Living is doing,” Mr. Herrera said.

A reader’s inbox is valuable real estate, said Elisabeth Goodridge, editorial director of newsletters at The Times. It’s a place where The Times can have a one-to-one relationship with the readers, “and we respect that.”

The “secret sauce” to good newsletters, she said, is as follows: Know your audience, have an expert write it, design it beautifully, maintain it with best practices in mind, and, perhaps most important, “offer something valuable that you can’t get anywhere else.”

But it’s also an intimate and controlled space, and the newsletter’s tone, photos, frequency and topics of choice shouldn’t overwhelm people.

“We want it to be a friction-free experience,” said Andrea Kannapell, the editor of briefings at The Times. That means shorter, lighter sentences (what Ms. Levine and Mr. Wolfe called “writing in French fries instead of hamburgers”); a conversational voice; and information that equips readers to take on news conversations at work and at cocktail parties.

“We want them to leave the briefing feeling uplifted,” Ms. Kannapell said. “Like their friend in the newsroom made sure they knew what they needed to know.”

Source : https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/09/insider/newsletters-briefing.html

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What’s in a Newsletter? At The Times, There’s a Secret Sauce
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